Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear revealed his true colors when he announced that online poker sites were “leeches on our communities.” The governor, a democrat who originally ran as a pro-gambling candidate, has suddenly turned against those gaming sites that don’t provide Kentucky with a cut of its profit. In order to protect the taxed revenue of Kentucky’s already regulated gambling industry, Beshear asked that the government be given the power to seize the domain names of all the “illegal” online gambling sites.
The list of these “illegal” sites constitutes of 141 different domain names, including PokerStars, FullTilt, Bodog, CakePoker, AbsolutePoker, UltimateBet, DoylesRoom, and MicroGaming. Beshear had filed a civil suit with a Franklin County Circuit Court, asking that the government be given the power to control all of the domain names. Judge Thomas Wingate is set to preside over a Thursday hearing.
Currently, it has already been ruled that a “probable cause did exist to believe that the domain names in question were being used in connection with illegal gambling within the Commonwealth of Kentucky.” Incidentally, the court ruled that the domain names may be legally seized and Kentucky Justice Secretary J. Michael Brown has reported that the state has already done so and is now seeking forfeiture.
Beshear has made the move several times now that these sites operate illegally by offering their services to Kentucky citizens. Not only are they operating illegally, but according to him, “(These sites) siphon off money from regulated and legal games such as Kentucky’s thoroughbred racing industry, our lottery and charitable gaming activities.”
John Pappas, the executive director of the Poker Player Alliance, which has more than 13,000 members in Kentucky, released a statement immediately, regarding Governor Beshear’s actions. The PPA argues that such a seizure would not only be a major blow to the rights of Kentucky citizens, but would also lead to the beginning of rampant Internet censorship. Pappas also addressed the legality issue of online gambling.
“Many of Governor Beshear’s arguments – that online poker is illegal, unregulated and without a mechanism to capture tax revenue – are false. Online poker is not illegal under Kentucky law, is regulated in its home jurisdiction and the Commonwealth of Kentucky chose not to license and regulate poker websites.
“If the Governor truly wants to implement tighter regulations, taxation mechanisms and consumer protections on Internet gambling, the PPA suggests he publicly support federal legislation by U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, H.R. 2460, which would achieve those goals.”
A move to regulate online gambling and poker, and gain another tax revenue, seems to be a more reasonable request than what Governor Beshear is currently asking. This would keep the rights of Kentucky’s citizens from being drastically violated, and would even be a profitable move for the state.